Retailer Spotlight: Boomerang for modern, San Diego



Boomerang for modern, established in 1985, has been a longtime pioneer in the revival of modern design. The shop, in the trendy North Little Italy district of San Diego, is a treasure trove of modern accesories, lighting, art and home furnishing, all arranged in inviting, home-like settings. We are so pleased that Ralph Rapson designs have found a San Diego home here!

Below is a short Q & A with David Skelley, owner of Boomerang for modern and pictured in the last photo. It comes as no surprise that he is just as delightful and sunny as his shop! I agree with David, it really is the people and stories that make modern design so wonderful.

1. It looks like you have been in the modern retail business at Boomerang for nearly 27 years. What initially drew you to mid-century modern design when it wasn't so popular in the 1980s?

In the late seventies an eccentric friend had me over to his home to show me some of his garage sale furniture finds which happened to be mid-century modern.  I absolutely loved them. This was new and fascinating to me so for months and months I dove into the design section at the library to find out as much as I could. (pre-internet you know!)  I somehow knew this was my calling and there was nothing to be done about it other than to open a small shop and try my hand at selling the stuff. You’re right, the eighties were a hard sell but it eventually caught on. Though I still have people coming into the shop telling me they hear this stuff is “coming back”! -I just agree with them and tell them that it’s been coming back at Boomerang for the last 27 years!

2. What is the most unique/exciting piece to grace your showroom? 

Currently it’s hard to choose as so many special pieces have come in over the past couple of months. Though if I’m going to choose it would be an entire dining suite by designer Martin Borenstein for California’s Brown Saltman circa mid-fifties. The series is called “Variations” as the pieces are modular and expandable on demand. The buffet has separate units that are joined by sliding walnut couplers and the dining table has two benches each with three cushions. The center one is removable and the two outer ones can slide inwards to form a two seat bench for when the table isn’t using the leaves. Very ingenious and fun.

3. What do you enjoy most about running your business at Boomerang?  

The great designs that flow through the shop are always a joy but really it’s the people. The customers, some of whom are seasoned and knowledgeable collectors and other wide-eyed newcomers who are just discovering this rich era of design.  –And the amazing people I buy from. Most happen to be the original owners who happened to be quite progressive in their day and their stories add so much color, depth and even passion to each item!

4. How long have you had the Rapson Rockers on display in your showroom? 

I have had the Rapson rockers in my showroom since their reintroduction starting with the Bentwood rocker and now I have low back and high back Greenbelt rockers in the showroom.

5. What types of response have you gotten from customers? 

Nothing but high praise. I have a couple who own a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house very interested in my high back as these chairs were specified for some of his homes.


6. What do you personally like about the Rapson Rocker? What’s NOT to like? 

They are stunning and sculptural from every angle. They are beautifully crafted and solid as a rock. The joinery and upholstery attention to detail are perfect. Plus they fit the human anatomy and rock like the dickens!



7. Have you long been an admirer of Rapson architecture and design? If so, what do you like about it and which projects are your favorites?

When I first became interested in this period of architecture and design I discovered the “Case Study House” program and Rapson’s delightful Greenbelt House. But what I really got a kick out of were his super amusing hand drawn illustrations with crazy looking people and animals doing crazy modern things in their Rapson designed homes.

[photo credits: David Skelley, Boomerang for modern. All rights reserved]

We would like to extend a most sincere thank you to David for taking time to write such wonderful and entertaining responses for this interview. I will surely write a post about Ralph Rapson's wildly inventive drawings, but for the meantime, some of his best known drawings can be found in the books, Ralph Rapson: Sketches and Drawings from Around the World and Ralph Rapson: 60 Years of Modern Design. 

Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc.


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